Monday, October 31, 2011

Weekly Appts

We're at that point now - we are going to Rochester weekly to monitor baby.  The last couple weeks have been typical, and crazy.  After failing the glucose test and being diagnosed with gestational diabetes, Dr R had me meet with a diabetic specialist nurse and a dietitian.  I had to monitor my blood sugar for the next week until I went in to see him again too.  For some unknown reason, even though I've been very adamant about adhering to the strict carb count they put me on, my morning blood sugars were still high.  Throughout the day there were a few times here and there that they would spike again.  Dr R wasn't very happy with this last week when I went back for my checkup. (He said that most people cheat and don't fill in their real numbers on the chart - he was happy to see that I was!)

I'm still monitoring my sugars 4 times a day and now I'm also taking a pill every evening to help control my blood sugar.  Since I've been on it, my morning sugars have been right on target!  My fasting level is supposed to be under 95 (right when I get up in the morning) and then under 120 when I check it 2 hours after each meal.  They are very strict on exactly how many grams of carbs I'm to have for each meal and for snacks 3 times per day.  It's been hard to stick with, especially since I LOVE pasta and mashed potatoes.  The big surprise to me was that there are carbs in milk and yogurt but not in cheese.  There is also a list of veggies that have carbs and count against me.  So glad green beans aren't on that list since they're my favorite :)  Cooking has been a bit of a challenge for me, but I've been doing some experimenting, which has been coming out pretty good for the most part!

At my last appt, doc also gave me a prescription heart burn medication.  I've been having such awful heartburn that wakes me up in the middle of the night, I feel like I'm going to be sick!  Thankfully this medication has been working really well :)  Almost no heartburn since I started it. 

Next step is to get my blood pressure down.  Normally it's about 120/80 or a little lower, but when I'm pregnant it usually runs about 110/70 or somewhere in that area.  My last appt it was 130/85.  This worried our doc.  He said if the top # gets above 140 or the bottom goes over 90, they're going to look at inducing me at 34 weeks (I'm 32 right now.)  With the complications we've had, high blood pressure is coming out to be the final straw.  If we do go early, though, we suspect very few complications other than the echogenic bowel issue.  In the last ultrasound, the baby was practicing 'breathing,' so the lungs are looking good.  Based on the ultrasound, the baby weighed in at about 4 pounds 7 ounces.  That's a huge jump in 2 weeks from the 3 pounds 4 ounces they estimated then!!

Tomorrow we go in again.  Our weekly appts are non-stress test, ultrasound, and meet with the OB.  We'll be meeting with a couple others besides the one we've been seeing.  My sister has to work, so we are going to have to take Scrappy with us.  Beau has school, but we'll be able to drop her off and pick her up since we don't have to be in Roch until 930 and we'll be done before noon.  Hubs is planning to try to get to work in the afternoon if we get back in time.  Maybe then he won't have to work as long on Saturday.  I know he needs to make up the time, it just seems like I hardly see him when Sunday is the only day he's home because we always have so much to do.  It would be great to have a day to just relax and spend time together.

Since this is the number one question I'm asked: As of Thursday, my total weight change with this pregnancy:  Down 11.25 pounds still.  I've been asked often if I'm having twins.  I suppose since the baby is gaining weight and I've overall been losing weight, my baby belly seems to be protruding a bit more than with the other two.  My darling hubby told me that from the back he can't really even tell I'm pregnant cuz I seem to be carrying it all in my belly up front.  He's so sweet :)

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Recipes - P2

Cheeseburger Broccoli Chowder
6 c chicken stock
1 1/2 lb ground beef, browned and drained
2 tbsp Worchestershire Sauce
1 c milk
1 bag frozen broccoli
8 potatoes, peeled and cubes
1/2 of a large block of Velveeta, cubed*
1/2 medium onion, chopped
flour to thicken

*In place of the Velveeta, you can use 2 cans condensed cheddar cheese soup.  If you use this method, only use 3 cups chicken stock and increase the milk to 4 cups.

Combine hamburger, Worchestershire sauce, milk, and chicken broth in 4 qt soup pot.  Add potatoes and simmer about 15 minutes.  Add remaining ingredients except flour.  Simmer another 15 minutes or until cheese is melted and potatoes are tender.  Remove some of the broth to another bowl, whisk with flour, and use as a thickener.  Serve.

Apple Butter
Apples - peeled, cored, and chopped (approx 2 qts after prepped)
Ground cinnamon
Ground nutmeg
Ground cloves

Once the apples are peeled and cored, I cut them into quarters (since they're small apples), add a little sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and a little water, and cook covered about 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally.  After that, I remove the lid and cook until desired tenderness, mash with my potato masher, and cook until desired thickness.  A little taste test here and there and maybe a little more sugar or cinnamon.  I don't have a preference for a type of apples (besides free - that always works good for me!!), but I have been getting Wealthy windfalls from FM.  They are a little bruised, but that doesn't matter.  If it's too bad I might cut it out, but so far it's been pretty good!!

Salsa Chicken
4 small chicken breasts or 2 large, cut in half
6 tbsp cream cheese
1/2 pint salsa (I use homemade)
1/2 c shredded cheese - cheddar, colby jack, or whatever your favorite is

Place chicken breasts in 8x8 casserole or similar sized baking dish.  Spread 1 1/2 tbsp cream cheese on each chicken breast.  Top with salsa.  Cover with foil and bake approx 30 minutes at 350.  Remove foil, sprinkle with shredded cheese, and continue to bake until chicken is no longer pink and cheese is melted, about 5 minutes.  Serve over rice.

Chicken and Mushroom Sauce
2 medium chicken breasts, cut into cubes
2-3 tbsp garlic flavored olive oil
1/2 stick butter
1/4 c diced onion
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 c sliced white button mushrooms
1/4 + 1/2 c milk
2 tbsp flour
1/2 block cream cheese, cubed
salt and pepper to taste
3 tbsp parsley

Heat olive oil in a deep skillet.  Add cubed chicken breasts.  Sautee until chicken is no longer pink.  Remove from pan and set aside.  Add butter to pan.  When melted, add onion, garlic, and mushrooms.  Cook, stirring occasionally, until mushrooms are thoroughly cooked and tender and onions are translucent.  Remove from pan and set aside.  Add 1/4 c milk to pan and heat to simmering, scraping up all tidbits from bottom of pan. Add cream cheese and gently whisk until well incorporated and melted.  Gradually add in remaining milk and bring to simmer.  Whisk in 1 tbsp flour.  Add mushroom mixture and chicken back into sauce.  Simmer approximately 10 more minutes.  Add more flour if necessary to thicken sauce. Stir in parsley.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Serve over mashed potatoes.

Taco Salad
1 lb hamburger
1/4 c diced onion
1 packet taco seasoning
1 head lettuce, chopped
3-4 medium tomatoes, chopped (more if desired)
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
tortilla chips
Salsa or French dressing

Cook hamburger with onion.  Use taco packet to make taco meat (follow packet directions).  Be sure to drain grease from hamburger before adding seasonings.  Combine meat, lettuce, tomatoes, and black beans in large mixing bowl.  Mix thoroughly.  Crush up some chips and put on a plate or in a bowl.  Top with meat/veggie/bean mixture.  Top with salsa or French dressing.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Recipes - P1

A few of my friends have been asking for some of my recipes lately since I've been doing quite a bit of cooking.  So I thought, why not just post a few recipes at a time as separate entries?  Maybe someday I'll post a whole separate blog for this, but this is how it's going to work for now :)

So here are the recipes for this week:

*Note - I cook like Grandma - many of my measurements are guesstimates since I don't measure most of the stuff - I go according to taste.  Feel free to alter any of these recipes to fit your particular tastes.

The base for many of my soup recipes and chicken recipes is chicken broth or chicken stock.  I've become fond of making my own.  I've tried making it using some dark meat quarters I had bought on sale, but it works much better using a whole chicken carcass.  You can buy an already roasted chicken, or roast your own chicken, serve it for dinner using the drippings to make gravy for your potatoes, then cut off the remainder of the meat.  You can leave any of the fat you cut off with the carcass for a little extra flavor. 

Chicken Stock
1 chicken carcass with leftover fat/skin and neck, giblets, and heart
4 stalks of celery
4 carrots, peeled
1 large or 2 small onions, peeled
3-4 cloves of garlic, crushed
salt, to taste

I use an about 8-10 quart stock pot.  Put the chicken carcass and other chicken pieces into the stockpot with enough water to completely cover by about 4-6 inches.  Chop each carrot and stalk of celery into 3-4 pieces.  Cut onions in half if using small, quarters if using a large onion.  Add carrots, celery, onion, and garlic to the pot.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to simmer.  Cook 4-6 hours, covered, stirring occasionally.  Pour through colander to remove all the chunks.  (I usually pour it through a couple times.  Stock will be a little cloudy.  You can also use a cheesecloth in the colander to get a clearer stock, but I like the flavor it maintains.)  To get a more concentrated flavor, you can take the strained stock and return it to heat for another hour on low.  I add about a tablespoon of salt while my stock is cooking.  Then the stock can be canned while still warm, or let cool and freeze.  I add any additional salt when actually cooking with the stock - making soup, gravy, etc.

Cheesy Potato Soup (originally from my mom, but slightly modified)
1 box chicken broth (I use Swanson or homemade and then don't really measure - think it's about 6 cups...)
6-8 large potatoes, peeled and cubed
1 lb carrots, chopped into bite sized pieces
1/2 of a large block of Velveeta cheese, cubed
milk (around 1/4 gallon) (as much as necessary - sorry, I don't measure it!!!)
flour (to thicken)
1/2 c chopped onion
1 lb bacon

Chop bacon into small slices and fry until almost crisp. Drain and add onion. Cook until onions are tender. Add chicken broth. Bring to boil. Add potatoes and carrots. Add enough milk to cover all by about 1-2 inches and Velveeta cubes. Cook until potatoes and carrots are almost tender. Whisk flour with some milk and add to thicken. Cook until desired thickness and until potatoes and carrots are desired tenderness. Add salt and pepper as needed.

Creamed Chicken
6 c chicken broth or chicken stock (I used homemade)
2 tbsp butter
2 c diced fully cooked chicken (I used leftovers)
1/2 c milk
flour (to thicken)
1 1/2-2 c frozen mixed peas and carrots
Salt and pepper to taste

Bring chicken broth/stock and milk to a simmer.  Remove some of the liquid to a bowl and whisk in flour to make a roux to thicken sauce (I've learned doing it in a separate bowl reduces the number of flour clumps in the sauce).  Whisk roux into the sauce.  Repeat as needed to reach just shy of desired thickness.  Add butter and mix until butter is melted and incorporated through.  Stir in chicken and peas/carrot mixture.  Simmer, stirring frequently, until meat is heated and veggies are cooked.  Sauce with thicken as it simmers.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  (You may need a little more salt if you are using a homemade stock.  I don't add much salt to my stock when I make it, so I usually have to add more to the final product.)  Serve over biscuits or mashed potatoes.

Baking Powder Biscuits (this has become a staple in our house - easy to make and goes great with soups or served with gravy over them!)
2 c flour
1 tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 c shortening
1 c milk

Mix together flour, baking powder, and salt.  Cut in shortening (I use a pastry blender - works great!) until well incorporated and mixture has smaller than pea-sized lumps.  Stir in milk until entire mixture is moistened.  Now, the original recipe said to bake at 450, but my oven is old and goes into self-cleaning mode if I turn it up that high, so I bake at 375 for about 18 minutes, then add a few more minutes if needed.  Biscuits are done when they are browned on the top.  This recipe makes 12 biscuits.  I cook them using my Pampered Chef Pizza Stone. (I have the old one without handles, but very similar to this.)

I've also been making this amazing Amish Baked Oatmeal I got from Economical Eats by Heather - my family LOVES it made with the raisins.  They're not so fond of it with the chocolate chips.  I've also put 2 chopped bananas in place of the raisins.  I think next time I do the banana, I'm going to add some walnuts too - I think that would be a good flavor.  This is really easy to make up the night before, storing it in the refrigerator, then throwing it into the oven while the kids are getting ready in the morning.

Be sure to check out a few others that I had posted before - applesauce, spaghetti sauce, and bean and ham soup.

If you want any of my other recipes, just ask!!

Just Livin' Life...

I do well with my blogging for a while, then I notice I have some big gaps in my entries.  Life gets in the way at times.  I just don't seem to realize how much and how often life happens :)  The last month has been a little chaotic, but when isn't it when you have two crazy kids running your house?? LOL!

We spent a week with sickness going through the house.  Beau had strep and an ear infection.  Scrappy caught a bad cold and had a sore throat.  Hubs ended up with an awful head cold, bad enough that it kept him home from work for a day.  In the middle of all that, we still went to a benefit for our friend who has terminal cancer.  We didn't stay long, but we did make it there.  After everyone else had gotten over being sick, I got hit with a head cold.  My balance is horrid as it is just from the pregnancy.  Add the vertigo that comes with severely clogged sinuses does not help.  And the additional dizziness, which we thought was from low blood sugar from what the doctors said.

My weekends have been super busy with the kids and with hubs working Saturdays and church and Sunday school on Sundays.  It's been so busy that I even gave away the 10 gallons of tomatoes that I had picked a week ago with the intention of making spaghetti sauce.  I still have 3 bags and a box of apples sitting on the table out back that I haven't had time to do yet.  From my dizzy spells, I've decided it's something I can't do if hubs isn't here.  Maybe this weekend I'll have a chance to do at least some of them.  On Sunday that is, since he's going in to work on Saturday.  My car has decided it doesn't wanna work right - almost sounds like the spark plugs are misfiring or maybe something with the fuel injectors, but it shakes and jerks so awful when it's idling.  He's going to see if he can figure out what's wrong with it.

An update on baby:  My last appointment, on Tuesday, baby weighed in at about 3 pounds 4 ounces.  My previous appointment baby was about 2 pounds, so he/she is growing really well!!  We still see echogenic bowel, but we weren't too surprised by that.  The blood pocket is still there too.  When I went to TOPS yesterday, I finally gained 2 pounds.  Doc said I SHOULD be gaining about 1/2-1 pound per week and baby should be gaining 1/4-1/2 pound per week.

Shortly after we got home, the doctor's office called.  It's never a good thing when the call after you leave....  I had my blood tests and glucose screening done, so they were calling with the results.  My hemoglobin is about 12.4, which is great since I'm normally borderline anemic.  My thyroid levels were good too, so that means the higher dose of levothyroxin is working just as it should be doing. 

Then the bad news - I failed my glucose test.  Dr Rose has said that 140 and under is considered to be 'normal', 141-189 is 'inconclusive' and warrants a retest which is a 3 hour fasting test, and 190+ is considered having gestational diabetes.  Well, I tested in at 191.  Yay, another complication.  For the next week, I'm supposed to log all the food I eat.  They sent a few prescriptions over for me to get filled.  One was for lancets, one for a glucose monitor, and one for test strips.  I go back to Rochester next Thursday to meet with the dietitian and diabetic counselor.  They are going to show me how to check my blood sugars and when I'm supposed to do it.  From the sounds of it, they don't think I'll need medication and I should be able to control it just by what I eat.  We'll see what happens.  Hubs is taking the afternoon off to go with me.

The nurse I spoke with on the phone gave me a 'heads up' on a few other concerns.  When a mom has gestational diabetes, the baby usually has a higher birth weight.  Babies born at term are closer to 10 pounds, which she said can cause complications in itself.  There is a chance of shoulder dysplasia and an increased risk of C-section.  Baby also runs risks from his/her blood sugar dropping after birth and will have to be more closely monitored after birth.  It sounds like I will be going in for weekly appointments after my appointment on Thursday so they can monitor the baby with non-stress tests and to watch the baby's weight and the amount of fluid.  I guess this really isn't such a bad thing since we're getting closer to when the doc figures the baby will come.  As of right now I'm almost 29 weeks.

My wonderfully amazing husband talked to his boss after I called to tell him about my upcoming appointment.  He asked if I wanted him to go with me, and after some discussion, he told me it was best if I don't travel that far alone (it's over an hour drive to see our doctors, but they ARE specialists and some of the best in the country!)  He told his boss that my appointments are going to be weekly.  One of the great things about him working for a small shop is that his boss is much more flexible than most.  His boss has a child with medical issues also, so he's pretty understanding about all this.  He said it's fine, but that hubs is going to have to make up some, if not all, of the time somehow.  So that means he'll probably be working Saturdays, or possibly just staying a couple hours late most nights.  I'm ok with that, especially since he's really doing it for me.  Isn't that just the sweetest thing??  I know I sing his praises quite often, but from my past relationship experiences, most of those 'men' wouldn't have been so supportive.

Speaking of my wonderful husband, I got some 'alone time' out with him on Saturday (after he cleaned up the branch we lost during Thursday's wind storm!)

We had a sitter come for a few hours while we went out for a few hours.  It was his birthday, and there was a big 'We Love You' party for our friend with cancer.  I was the designated driver, obviously.  We went for him to have a few adult beverages and to visit with friends, then out for supper.  We had just asked for a 'to-go' container when the sitter called - Scraps was vomiting :(  She sat with Beau while we took him into Urgent Care since he was already on antibiotics but was still running a fever. 

These past almost 2 weeks, I have be very tired besides dealing with the dizzy spells.  Hopefully after Thursday we can get all of this under control.  But my house is falling apart.  My kitchen is a disaster.  I don't have the energy to get caught up with it.  I've fallen way behind on laundry.  I can barely stay awake enough to do my homework.  I've been doing all my errands right away in the morning after dropping Beau off at school, and by the time I get home I'm completely wiped.

One of my current classes, stress management and wellness, has given me some tools to use to help combat stress.  I've actually been practicing some of the meditation methods and found them useful.  Some are more difficult to do with small children around, but I make due.  I'll be sure to post the ones that are working best :)  I'm actually thinking of using some of the meditation methods for labor when baby comes!  Yes, I'm planning to do this delivery all natural again, so we'll see what happens!